May 8, 2011
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Sharks lead best-of-seven series, three games to one
Antti Niemi (3.11 GAA, .900 SP) allowed four goals in Game 4, tying his highest figure of this postseason. It was his first career loss at Joe Louis Arena.
Jimmy Howard, whose 2.55 goals-against average and .921 save percentage are still more than respectable, will remain in net for the Red Wings.
For the second consecutive season, the Sharks held a 3-0 series advantage over the Red Wings in the second round. And for the second straight season, the Sharks were unable to put Detroit away in Game 4.
The Sharks rallied from a 3-0 deficit on Friday behind goals from Logan Couture, Dan Boyle and Dany Heatley. But Darren Helm's tally with 1:27 remaining kept Detroit alive in the series. Nicklas Lidstrom had two early goals for the Red Wings, while Todd Bertuzzi also scored.
Ryane Clowe had three assists on Friday and now has five assists in the last three games. Boyle has two goals and three assists in the first four games vs. Detroit. Douglas Murray led the Sharks with four hits in Game 4.
Lidstrom, still on top of his game at age 41, already has four goals in this series. Henrik Zetterberg has four assists in his last two games. Justin Abdelkader registered five hits on Friday night to pace the Red Wings.
The longer this series goes on, the more pressure will fall on the Sharks' shoulders. Only three teams in NHL history have come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The Red Wings certainly have the talent to win four straight against the Sharks, but for San Jose - a team with championship aspirations - it will be critical to end this series as quickly as possible.
Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Clowe are among the Sharks who have yet to score in this series. Sure, San Jose is up 3-1, but a little more offense from this trio couldn't hurt.
The Sharks are a perfect 5-0 this postseason when scoring first. In Game 4, they allowed three goals in the first period to dig themselves into a quick 3-0 hole. San Jose is also 5-0 in overtime this postseason.